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The CAPSI Science Materials Support Center

CAPSI leaders appreciated the need for a science materials support center early in the history of their project due largely to the experiences of colleagues in Mesa, Arizona, and the Highline District outside of Seattle. The typical center is a centralized facility that maintains the kits of science-education modules and supplies, then lends these kits and supplies to classrooms across the district on a regular basis throughout the school year. Without this kind of support, many teachers find it difficult to teach in a kit-based program, and the program dies. In Pasadena, an embryonic center was established in the first pilot school in the first year, and with the introduction of more modules, the center grew. At that point, the center was still directed and staffed only by the pilot-school coordinator with the aid of an occasional volunteer.

Transforming the center operation so that an entire school district's elementary schools (500 classrooms) could be served proved very challenging to CAPSI. The challenge was made even greater by the short turnaround time between the teachers' need for one module and the next. In CAPSI, this problem was solved to some extent by a policy of having extra modules that could be refurbished while demand was low. Kits involving animals are sent out one week after other kits, as well.

Today, Pasadena has a single, central facility under a full-time director with support staff of two full-time employees. Volunteers pitch in, especially during the weeks between the teaching of one module and the next, when demand for refurbishment is at its greatest.

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